Silver-Tongued Devil - Lorelei James

Chapter One

Outside Sackett’s Saloon

Labelle Unincorporated Township

Crook County, Wyoming

May 1897

Even in the dark, Silas McKay sensed the attack coming.

Although he couldn’t get his knife out in front of him in time, somehow he managed to turn his head, so the first blow landed on his cheekbone instead of busting his nose.

Still hurt like a son-of-a-bitch.

Then the bastard who’d taken that cheap shot aimed punches number two and three at Silas’s gut, doubling him over.

Sharp pain sliced through him and he sucked in a quick breath.

An elbow connected with the back of his head and Silas’s hat hit the ground.

But before Silas could straighten up, Zeke West kicked him in the butt with enough force that Silas landed face-first in the dirt. Dust filled his mouth and he started coughing.

“Gimme back my money,” Zeke yelled.

More dust eddied around him, making it impossible to see in the pitch black. Making it hard to breathe—even before Zeke changed tactics and kicked Silas in the ribs.

He felt the wetness coating his side.

“Dirty rotten cheater like you belongs in the dirt,” Zeke sneered.

Silas wheezed out, “I won fair and square.”

“Liar!” A flurry of kicks connected. “You’ve never played fair. I’m gonna beat you until you pass out and then I’m takin’ back what’s mine.”

Like hell.

But Silas only managed to grunt in response.

Zeke shuffled until the toe of his boot connected with Silas’s spine, punctuating each kick with insults—“dirty, rotten, no-good, lyin’, lily-livered, cheatin’, son of a whore”—while Silas attempted to protect his head.

“Ready to give me my money back?” Zeke taunted. “Or should I bring this up with your brother?”

A commotion sounded, bootsteps hitting the wooden planks outside the saloon, then boots thudding across the ground as people shouted and raced toward where the beating was happening.

About damn time.

Silas took a chance, uncurling his arms from around his head to glare over his shoulder at Zeke. Then he gritted out, “Typical, West, that you were hidin’ in the shadows to jump me. Ain’t man enough to face me head-on—”

The last thing Silas saw was Zeke’s boot heel above his face before everything went dark.

Chapter Two

Jonas McKay reached the scuffle just as Zeke West tried to stomp on his brother’s face again.

Yelling “Hey!” he shoved Zeke hard, knocking him off balance, away from Silas, who was out cold. Heart racing, he crouched down to see if Zeke had actually done the unthinkable and killed Silas this time.

Blood covered Silas’s face. Jonas couldn’t tell if the blood on Silas’s mouth was from his lip being busted open or just run-off blood pouring from someplace else.

Before he could roll Silas over, Zeke stumbled forward, as if to take another shot.

Jonas held up his hand. “Touch him again, West, and I’m haulin’ you in.”

“I thought you were off duty, Deputy McKay,” he spat.

“I’m never off duty. And I’d arrest any man beatin’ on another man who can’t fight back. Now step aside.”

“Make me. You think that big tin star makes you a big man?”

“No, but this big gun does. Step aside.”

“Do as he says, Zeke.”

Jonas looked up at Zeke’s brother, Zachariah, who’d shoved his way through the circle of onlookers.

Zeke sputtered, “B-but he cheated—”

“Now is not the time.” To ensure his smaller brother complied, Zachariah tugged Zeke back away from the scene. He said, “We’re goin’,” to Jonas but added, “But we ain’t done with this. Not by a long shot,” to Zeke.

Fucking West brothers. They were notorious for tossing out threats, but the hell of it was, they nearly always followed through. Or at least Zeke did.

Silas groaned, garnering Jonas’s attention. Then he started to cough blood.

“Easy. Let’s get you off your back.”

When Silas didn’t move of his own accord, Jonas shoved his brother’s shoulder hard, forcing him onto his side so he didn’t choke on his own blood.

Silas promptly passed out again.

Jonas glanced up and saw Jimmy, the twelve-year-old orphan who worked odd jobs around Labelle, holding Silas’s hat. “Is he gonna be okay, Deputy?”

“I don’t know, Jimmy. Can you run over to Doc’s place and let him know I’m bringin’ Silas in for a look-see?”

“Sure will.” Jimmy raced off.

A snort sounded, then Robbie O’Neil crouched down across from Jonas. “Stubborn lad, yer brother. I be warnin’ him against playin’ poker with Zeke West again, knowin’ that bastard was spoilin’ for a fight since the last time Silas beat him at cards.”

“Appears my brother didn’t listen.”

“Never does.”

“I reckon Silas won?”


Jonas sighed, studying Silas’s bloodied face. “And to think I’ve always considered him the luckier twin.”

“Bein’s West had just gotten